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Protecting Yourself from Spam

Last Updated: Tue, 05 Jan 2016 > Related Articles

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Learn how spammers get email addresses and how you can reduce the amount of spam received.


How Spammers Get Email Addresses

Spammers use a variety of methods to gather email addresses, send messages, and cover their tracks. Sometimes they use computers set up as email servers specifically configured to send spam. They also use computer viruses designed to access others' computers to send spam.

Spammers generally get email address lists from several places. Searching public bulletin boards, websites, and newsgroups for valid email addresses is one common method. Preparing a list of common names such as Jim, Joe, or Jane, and then adding the @cox.net domain name is another.

How to Reduce the Amount of Spam Received

Use the following tips to help reduce the amount of spam you're experiencing.

  • Do Not Use Your Primary Email Address to Sign Up for Anything — Consider creating separate addresses that can be used for online purchases, chat rooms, and other public postings. Many customers create a secondary email address for ecommerce, signing on to websites, and entering sweepstakes.
  • Use a Unique Email Address — Select an email address that is difficult for spammers to guess. Consider using a long email address that includes more than one word, numbers, and an underscore. Also, if chatting online, use a unique screen name that is not associated with your email address.
  • Do Not Unsubscribe From a Spammer's List — Some spam messages will include links for you to click on, such as an unsubscribe link. However, once you click on the link, it validates your email address and ensures that additional spam messages are sent. You should not use an unsubscribe link in an email, unless the email is from a company you trust.
  • Watch Out for Those Checkboxes — Do not opt in for email you don't want, and watch out for checkboxes when you submit any form on a website. Always be familiar with a website's privacy policy before submitting any information.
  • Assume Mail from Unknown Senders is Spam — Friends and family do not typically spam you. If you receive an unsolicited commercial email or spam, you may report it to the sender’s Internet Service Provider (ISP). In order to do this, you must first view the complete message header for the spam message to identify the source network and send a report to the network administrator.

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